Are you a porous or a metallic?

Do you soak it all up or send it back? It’s time to find out

Miriam Margoram


Happy Week Two earth-children. This week we’re going to address our emotional lives and we’re going to do it with a little ol’ nugget of self-evaluation courtesy of the one and only Emma Thompson. Because Emma keeps it real. She dispensed this piece of there-are-only-two-kinds-of-people-in-this-world wisdom around this time last year when she came to speak at the Cambridge Union, and we tucked it in our dream-journal just to share with you in your time of need. 

You’re either porous or metallic.

You’re better than a shoulder to cry on: you’re a shoulder to weight-share with in one of those corporate team building exercises

Let us begin with you porous types. Your boundaries are wide open, willfully permeable. You await feelings and convictions to seep into you. The human tenderness in just about any work of art can hit a nerve. You can’t handle This Is Us, or Queer Eye, or the stampede bit in The Lion King – heck even the revelation scene in Cymbeline has emotionally accessible components to it. (Shakespeare in general you feel links directly to the things you’re going through – you know, coming of age and worldly striving and misogyny.) You often fall prey to pathetic fallacy, and this recent streak of sweltering siesta-days has got you thinking about what’s-really-important-in-life and the-way-that-everything-happens-for-a-reason. 

You, a Porous, gazing pensively into the distancePXHERE

This absorptive attitude extends beyond clichés of sentimentality. It means you take on the intellectual and social substance of any situation you find yourself in, no matter how viscous or runny. You go to lectures and you listen and write down everything you can. You trust that there is something genuine in what another mind has accessed, something that you would like to come upon as well. You’re not one to stand back and let the ideas bounce off of you, refracted with your own dismissive critique, because the principle you operate on is wanting to know where other people are coming from. 

This can often mean that you find yourself with a bottle of pinot and a weary friend around in your room more evenings than you expected. You’re better than a shoulder to cry on: you’re a shoulder to weight-share with in one of those corporate team building exercises. You’re the ideal person with whom to collaboratively compose a lament against the world and one of the phrases that escapes your lips most naturally in these moments of solidarity is ‘I feel…’ Because, well, you do. 

That string quartet hits you harder than the Titanic hit that icebergPIXABAY

This is not to say that if you are Metallic you don’t experience emotions, that you’re somehow head-over-heart. A porous piece of granite is potentially just as ‘hard’ as a slab of iron. Probably. Regardless, if you are of the ‘hard, solid, opaque, shiny’ variety, your defining characteristic is your ability to hold your own, to remain a separate and free-standing entity, to the environments you find yourself in. You’re not dragged into a re-release screening of Titanic expecting your life to be changed but you have to admit that string quartet ‘that, like, kept playing as the boat was, like, sinking’ hit you in some deep place. You don’t particularly understand why your friends put off little admin tasks like returning spare room keys to the porters or calling their bank up because of the mild social anxiety and awkwardness those interactions entail, but you’ll go ahead and do those things for them because, well, you care. 

In fact, ironically, you’re often a go-to emotional rock. Your response to distress is to respond with solutions not unfiltered sympathy. Part of the benefit of being metallic is that, while you are malleable to the necessities of those around you, you don’t soak up vibrations, positive or negative, like a sponge. This means that you can be the one to tell your friend that, in fact, his problems with his S.O. are, (if you both really admit it to yourselves), getting as repetitive and unrewarding as the fourteenth season of The Voice, and that while both things are semi-pleasant distractions from the serious business of making your way in the world and finding your real convictions, it’s probably time for a season finale. 


Mountain View

Are you a hunter or a gatherer?

A word of warning to both types. Metallics, don’t mistake your ability to conduct yourself in social situations for true engagement with the humans around you. In busy times your instinct, correctly, will be to do your own thing, offering yourself up to those closest to you when you get the chance. But, there will be people around you who want to soak up your thoughts a little more. If you want to keep them close you might want to consider contributing parts of yourself to an alloy. Porous types, whether you lie closer on the spectrum to an almost-metallic-marble, or a piece of bright but brittle coral, be wary of the things you let cross your boundaries. It could be that you have much more inherent structural integrity than you believe, and the social substance you think you need – be it from your supervisors, lecturers, friends, or family – in order to weather the storms ahead, are in fact putting extra pressure on a perfectly sound, organic, whole.